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I don't think I've ever been high maintenance about my nails. I definitely could never afford going to a salon every week, or even every two weeks - especially when I was in college (that may have been several years ago, but still).
When I chose to go to a salon for a manicure, I always opt for gel polish because I feel I'm getting the best value for my money: to me, my nails look more shiny, and I can go much longer without the polish chipping or my nails breaking. As much as I love how my nails look right after a gel manicure, though, I find that the removal process does a bit of damage to the strength of my nails. They appear more fragile, and, if I go any amount of time between gel manicures, one or a few nails inevitably break.
For when I feel my nails could use some time off from a UV light or the whole gel removal process, I always go with Essie's Gel polish. My favorite shade shown above here is a very classic nude, #32, At The Barre. It's a really simple two step process - color first, usually two coats, and then top coat. Applying the polish is super easy - even if you're not an expert, Essie's curve-hugging brush makes painting your own nails much less of a struggle. Overall, I am able to achieve the same level of shine that I see from a salon, but without any need for the polish to cure. Also very exciting, I find that the polish comes off easily with your regular nail polish remover!
Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the experience of having my nails done at a salon, but Essie has made achieving a gel manicure at home really easy and affordable. This shade is a go-to for me when I want to save some money and give my nails a bit of a break!